Don't text me, bro

Spencer Farris, The Levison Group

I received my Google glass this week. This thing is a pair of glasses you wear to use your smart phone without pulling it out of your pocket. Some of us twitch if our cell phone is untouched for too long.

Stuart Thomas did not know what Google glass is and asked if I used it to look up the contents of my beverages. It doesn't keep hot things hot or cold things cold - that is a Thermos.

Google glass was my second foray into the world of wearable technology. I have had a couple of watches that allowed me to take calls from my wrist, among other things. My wife shamed me out of that geek glory by calling me Inspector Gadget or Maxwell Smart. Over and over and over.

I say this, Gentle Reader, as a peremptory strike against those who would call me anti-technology for the contents of this column. I drive an electric car. I read Wired magazine - for the articles. Even my wife refers to me as her personal geek squad. I prefer nerd to geek, but the result is the same. In fact, I'm usually surrounded by so many gadgets that my former law partners referred to me as AWACS after the airplane of the same name.

Even though I don't know what the past tense of Twitter is - pretty sure it isn't twerk - I don't do it. No Instagram either. And while I love technology and new gadgets, I am not enamored with all that they bring.

My grumpy old man rant for this week is texting. Email is well-known for its overfamiliarity. Folks will type things in an email at 10:30 at night that they would never say face-to-face. I recently called an adversary out on his contentious email and he was mortified. He had no intention of offending me; his email simply sounded better in his head than in mine.

Electronic speech is free - too free. There is some sort of filter missing between our brains and our fingers that is present between our brains and our mouths. For most of us anyway. Most of the time. YMMV.

Text is email on steroids. Texters are not only overly familiar but poor spellers.

"R U OYW?"

"OMG, I am."

"ROFL. C U Soon."

I'm willing to wager next week's lunch money that few of us roll on the floor laughing very often. With the possible exception of a chimpanzee in the cowboy outfit, I can't think of much that even makes me laugh out loud.

If these sins were limited to text speak, I suppose they could be forgiven. Unfortunately, these horrible abbreviations no doubt created by the fat thumbed/ impaired/driving texters - have spilled over into everyday life.

I received an inquiry last week from a job applicant who had been a virtual paralegal online and now wanted the chance to become one IRL. Unlike unsolicited paper resumes, electronic ones are effortless to trash. If nothing else, texts and emails make one easy to ignore. A beautifully written resume on heavy cotton bond paper requires a ceremony to destroy. An email requires only a quick tap of the delete key.

Part of my disdain has to do with my middle-aged eyeballs, I will confess. It's not that I am too proud to wear reading glasses, it's just that I can never find the doggone things when I'm at my computer. I already have a monitor which compares to the Jumbotron at Cowboy Stadium. Still, it is common for my response to a six paragraph email to be simply "yes" or "no." My legal assistants knock on the door and ask a question if the emailed version is longer than two or three lines.

A client sent me a text last week asking for an update on his case. I told him that there was much to report and asked him to call me anytime. For a contingency fee lawyer, the words "call me anytime" are rarely spoken. We don't bill for our time, and rumor has it we are hard to reach unless we need something.

My offer was not received with appreciation. Rather than thrilled, my client was outraged.

"I work all day and I'm TOO BUSY TO CALL YOU. I'm entitled to updates and DEMAND that you text me."

I called him instead. I did this in part because texting a long status update would only have engendered confusion.

"N Ct lst wk. MSJ den, trl to flw," is an anti-climactic way to tell a client that the motion for summary judgment against him was overruled and we're going to trial. Not only that, but I much prefer gushes of praise to a simple thumbed "THX."

As you can imagine, this client did not gush. But at least he didn't yell.

Under Analysis is a nationally syndicated column of the Levison Group. Spencer Farris is the founding partner of The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri. Comments or criticisms about this column may be sent to this newspaper or directly to the Levison Group via e-mail at comments@levisongroup.com.

© 2014 Under Analysis L.L.C.

Published: Fri, Oct 03, 2014

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